Tord Gustavsen Quartet Quartet: Extended Circle
Despite seeming spacious and understated, Tord Gustavsen’s music demands and holds careful attention and transcends the traditional moody plaintiveness of the Nordic jazz tradition, not that those who enjoy all the above will find it in any way alienating. There’s a kind of lateral thinking present in much of the pianist’s work, in which ideas and styles are stated or implied in a kind of bare bones fashion. And these transform into something else altogether, often in the space of no more than a few bars. Lilting African-style melodies shift into sonata-like thematic statements, while modal passages transmute into folkish laments and then into intricate bebop riffs and so on.
That all this happens in the sparse context he favours (and tends to transmit to his sidemen, at least on this disc) is remarkable and compelling. The tunes are nice, too, with the aerated ECM sonics serving the music perfectly.